Monday, January 19, 2015

May I Introduce You to.....

I've been on a reading jag lately. It's what I'm doing instead of writing because writing is hard work and requires thinking. Reading is not hard work, and requires only a joyful focus on the result of someone else's efforts.

A variety of books and authors are waiting their turn on my coffee table, in bookcases, and on my Kindle and Nook tablet. I'm being very selective about the books I choose. Here's how I do it.

1. Great cover art, and

2. A short synopsis that intrigues me, and

3. A good hook on the first page of the novel.

4. Or....the book is written by someone I know in person or through online contacts, and I want to sample that author's work.

5. Or...there's an online buzz about the book.

6.  Or it's just sitting there on the shelf at the library or bookstore and something about it grabs my attention.

My most recent reads include Song of the Beast by Carol Berg, an award-winning author of high fantasy; Crossing Colfax, the most recent anthology from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers; Words Left Behind: tales from a life gladly lived, memoir by Nancy L. Reed, and The Stranger on the Train by Abbie Taylor. Now I'm reading Haunted, an Anna Strong vampire novel by Jeanne C. Stein.

I read for entertainment, so I want solid narrative and dialogue with no little annoyances to drag me out of the story (typos, dialect,  word repetitions, or timeline screwups). I want memoir to tell me something new about the author. I want thrillers and suspense to keep me turning the pages. I like tight writing for some genres, and expanded beautiful prose for others.

Rarely do I decide to read a book based on the reviews on or Goodreads. I do look at the spread of rankings, however, and then look for reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and BookList, as well as favorite blogging sites such as Lesa's Book Critiques and Buried Under Books.

So how did I choose those books I listed above? For Carol Berg's novel, I attended a dinner where she was the featured guest. That reminded me I hadn't read any of her books yet and don't read much high fantasy, so I choose the standalone Song of the Beast to get my feet wet in the genre. This is where I fell in love with dragons.

Crossing Colfax was a must read anthology because I had met most of the authors included at the RMFW Colorado Gold Conference or through blogging contacts. These stories inspired me to read lots more as I strive to master the art. For me, writing short stories is hard.

Words Left Behind: tales from a life gladly lived is memoir written by a good friend up here in Northern Colorado, and this first publication was released through another friend's new indie project, Wooden Pants Publishing. I'm more motivated now to self-publish something of my own one of these days.

Abbie Taylor's book, The Stranger on the Train, was a pick off the shelf at the library. I had a tough time putting it down to do important stuff like laundry and supper preparation.

Haunted is written by Jeanne C. Stein, a Colorado author who is also a regular contributor on the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog where I'm co-editor.Even though I'm not usually a fan of vampires, I'm hooked on this kick-ass Anna Strong character and will have to read more novels in the series.. She's tough, likable, and sometimes brutal. The story arc in Haunted is current and gripping.

You might wonder if I've been in a dark place this winter, considering the cover art on most of these selections. I assure you, that is only a coincidence. I also read the light and delightful A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman. I wanted to list it last because there's nothing more beautiful than a field of lavender in the South of France. Sussman's book was a fun read, romantic and sexy, and full of family drama as two grown and slightly dysfunctional grown daughters attend their mother's wedding.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're a mystery writer, so no surprise some of those are mysteries with dark covers.
I've actually been on a reading spree as well.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think I pick my books the same way as you do. I look for favorite authors, read books by people I know, read books by speakers at conferences and sometimes they just catch my eye at the library or bookstore.

Anonymous said...

Pat - I like the variety in what you have here! Good to hear you've made the time to do some reading.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Sometimes I get so busy with other writing-related activities that I forget what a pleasure it is to get lost in a book by someone else. It's all about balance, isn't it?

klahanie said...

Hi Patricia,

You certainly do like to variate what you read. As for writing instead of reading, I let the celebrity dog do the writing on my site when I need to take it easy. Sometimes, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar, reads to me :)


Anonymous said...

What a great list of books! I don't read high fantasy either, but you've convinced me to try Berg's. I wish there were a couple more hours in the day so I could squeeze in more reading time.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've been doing a lot of reading as well. Just finished an ARC of the wonderful THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah. I thoroughly recommend it. :)

Sarah Zama said...

Been a fan of Carol Berg for several years. I'm envious you met her :-)